Even after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s heavy campaigning, many candidates who defected from other parties to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to woo voters in the Maharashtra state assembly elections. Only 22 out of 58 of these candidates could manage to win the polls, while 36 failed to win. Success eluded even candidates like Ajit Ghorpade and Babanrao Pachpute who had left the Congress and NCP respectively to join the BJP.
After the break-up of Shiv Sena-BJP’s 25-year-old alliance, BJP had contested all 288 seats and had imported 58 candidates from various parties. 22 candidates were from the NCP, 20 from the Congress and 10 from the Shiv Sena, five from smaller parties and 1 independent.
Given that the assembly polls were also seen as the first major test of Narendra Modi’s popularity after the Lok Sabha polls, the prime minister had conducted 27 rallies for BJP candidates in Maharashtra.
10 out of 22 erstwhile NCP leaders fighting for BJP failed to win. Former NCP president Babanrao Pachpute, who joined BJP on the eve of the Assembly polls couldn’t cross the finishing line even after PM Narendra Modi conducted a rally for him. He was defeated in the Srigonda seat of north Maharashtra by 14,000 votes, where voters reposed faith in NCP nominee Rahul Jagtap. Ajit Ghorpade, formerly with the Congress and the NCP, had recently joined the BJP only to lose to former Home Minister RR Patil in Tasgaon who won by more than 22,000 votes. Other candidates who lost include Jagdish Valvi from Chopda, Advai Heere from Nandgaon, Arvind Chavan from Jalna, Yogendra Gode from Buldhana, Rajendra Pipada from Rahata, Abhay Agarkar from Ahmednagar, Sharad Butte from Khed Aalandi, Shantaram Patil from Bhiwandi, Balasaheb Gawde from Baramati
However, Vijay Kumar Gavit, formerly with NCP and minister in the earlier state government, Kisan Kathore from Murbad, Laximan Jagtap and Manda Mhatre were among the 10 NCP candidates who won the election. Mhatre won the seat by defeating former NCP Minister Ganesh Naik. Other candidates who won include, Sanjay Savkaare from Bhusaval, Rahul Kul from Daund, Pratap Chiklikar from Loha, Shivaji Kardile from Rahuri, Bhimrao Dhonde from Ashti, Monika Raajale from Pathardi, Snehalata Kolhe from Kopargan and Santosh Shetty from Bhiwandi.
While campaigning in Satana in Nashik district, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had criticised the BJP for importing candidates saying, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi calls us corrupt. A few years ago, the BJP had disrupted proceedings of the house over the allegations of corruption on NCP ministers. But today, those same ‘corrupt’ people have become saints for them after joining BJP.”
Several turncoats from the Congress who joined the BJP in the run up to the Assembly polls to improve their political fortunes, also did not reap the benefits of the saffron party. Madhav Rao Kinalkar from Bhokar, Manohar Badne from Dhule, Anand Bharose from Parbhani, Rajan Teli from Sawantwadi, Sanjay Dudhgaokar from Osmanabad, Manikrao Kokate from Sinner, Sanjay Devtale from Chandrapur and five others also lost.
Prashant Thakur, an erstwhile member of the Rahul Gandhi brigade, retained his Panvel seat by 14,000 votes on a BJP ticket. Other winners include Sunil Deshmukh, Sameer Meghe, Shivajirao Naik, Balasaheb Murkute, Amal Mahadik and Pankaj Bhoyar.
All the candidates who had joined BJP from Shiv Sena also failed to win. Vaibhav Naik lost his seat to Sandeep Naik, who is the son of former NCP Minister Ganesh Naik.
Former MNS MLA Ram Kadam who joined BJP a few days ahead of filing nomination forms, won the seat by a margin of 42,000 votes. Anil Gote who joined BJP from Lok Sangram party defeated Congress candidate Rajwardhan Raghujirao Kadambande by 13,000 votes. Independent candidate Prashant Bamb who contested on BJP’s ticket in Gangapur constituency won the seat by 17,000 votes defeating Shiv Sena’s Ambadas Eknath Danve.
Three other candidates who lost the election include alliance partner and Shiv Sangram’s leader Vinayak Mete, Sangita Raje Nimbalkar and Sanjay Gavhane. So it looks like voters don’t really appreciate blatant political opportunists.
First published on: dnaindia.com